Could Denmark’s Christian Democrats make surprise return to parliament?

The Christian Democrats have over 2 percent of support in a new poll, meaning the party could return to parliament for the first time since 2005.

Could Denmark’s Christian Democrats make surprise return to parliament?
Isabella Arendt and Stig Grenov of the Christian Democrats. Photo: Martin Sylvest / Ritzau Scanpix

The poll, conducted by Voxmeter for Ritzau and reported by Kristeligt Dagblad, represents the first time in 14 years the party, considered a rank outsider when the election was announced, has enough support to qualify for parliamentary representation.

Two percent of the overall vote is required for a party to enter parliament.

An unexpected increase in support has been linked to the impact of Isabella Arendt, the party’s 26-year-old stand-in leader, following her breakout performance in a televised election debate after regular leader Stig Grenov withdrew through illness. Grenov has since taken a leave of absence until after the election due to health concerns.

The party says it promotes traditional family values and is the closest thing Denmark has to an anti-abortion party, although it stresses that it doesn't want to ban abortions but rather work to bring numbers “down to zero”, in part by making pregnant women go through obligatory consultations about the physical and mental consequences of ending their pregnancies.

Given their success in early election polls, Arendt and the party's policy on this and other areas — it wants to deny public health service fertility treatment to same-sex couples, for example — could be set for closer attention prior to the June 5th vote.


The Local's general election guide to:

Monday’s opinion poll puts the Christian Democrats at 2.2 points, a 1.4-point increase on their vote share at the last election in 2015.

Should the poll be consistent with the election result, the Christian Democrats would find themselves back in parliament for the first time since 2005.

The latest poll is based on interviews conducted by Voxmeter for Ritzau between 17th-19th May:

  • Social Democrats: 27.5 percent/50 mandates (2015 result: 26.3 percent)
  • Social Liberals: 7.6 percent/14 mandates (4.6 percent)
  • Conservatives: 4.2 percent/8 mandates (3.4 percent)
  • New Right: 1.8 percent/0 mandates (did not run)
  • Socialist People’s Party: 7.3 percent/13 mandates (4.2 percent)
  • Liberal Alliance: 3.5 percent/6 mandates (7.5 percent)
  • Christian Democrats: 2.2 percent/4 mandates (0.8 percent)
  • Danish People’s Party: 11.3 percent/20 mandates (21.1 percent)
  • Liberals: 18.5 percent/33 mandates (19.5 percent)
  • Red Green Alliance: 8.8 percent/16 mandates (7.8 percent)
  • Alternative: 4.6 percent/6 mandates (4.8 percent)
  • Klaus Riskær Pedersen: 0.5 percent/0 mandates (did not run)
  • Stram Kurs: 2.6 percent/5 mandates (did not run)
  • Others: 0.6 percent/0 mandates

An election result in line with the poll would see the bloc of allied left-of-centre parties win 93 mandates, with the right-of-centre group, including Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen’s Liberal party, gaining a minority of 71 mandates.

The updated poll has a statistical uncertainty of +/- 2.8 percent.

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Power shifts in Denmark with the giving of gifts

Transfer of power between governments can be associated with antagonism, ill feeling and tension. In Denmark, it is accompanied by the exchange of gifts.

Power shifts in Denmark with the giving of gifts
Mette Frederiksen hands Lars Løkke Rasmussen his new cycling jersey. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen / Ritzau Scanpix

The quirky tradition was continued on Thursday as Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen took over from predecessor Lars Løkke Rasmussen as head of government.

Tradition in Danish politics dictates that all outgoing ministers, including the prime minister, exchange gifts with their successors on the day portfolios officially change hands.

The gifts, often referred to in Danish as drillegaver (‘teasing gifts’), are normally chosen with an element of humour in mind, while not forgetting to reference political opposition.

As the keys to the PM’s office were exchanged at Christiansborg Palace, the seat of parliament on Thursday, Rasmussen handed Frederiksen a pair of gloves and blue trousers from a set of overalls.

“I’m now handing over a Denmark in top form. And that must be looked after. I know will you do that, Mette,” Rasmussen said.

“One of the keys to achieving that is for us Danes to pull on our working gear,” he added.

In response, Frederiksen gifted Rasmussen, known for his enthusiasm for bicycle racing, a polka-dotted cycling jersey, making reference to his tendency to “break away from the pack” during the election campaign.

“I hope you will be spending a lot more time cycling in future,” Frederiksen joked as she gave her predecessor the jersey.

Also noting that she had probably not seen the last of the Liberal (Venstre) party leader in politics, the new PM had warm words of tribute for Rasmussen, who has served two separate terms as the head of Denmark’s government, from 2009-11 and 2015-19.

She thanked him for a being a decent opponent and for “everything you have done for Denmark”.

Rasmussen, who was not short of joking remarks himself, said he “had a habit of handing over the keys to a Social Democrat”.

After losing the 2011 election, he gave then-Social Democrat leader Helle Thorning-Schmidt his government’s budget repurposed as a handbag, while Thorning-Schmidt gave Rasmussen a bus ticket.

Roles were reversed in 2015, when Rasmussen, having regained power, gave Thorning-Schmidt a selfie stick and received festival tickets in return.

The Danish tradition of giving gifts while handing over power is a modern one, having gradually emerged in the 1980s and 1990s.

“Transition of power used to be very formal,” DR’s political commentator Bent Stuckert told Politiken in 2011. That is evidenced by the below video, which shows Anker Jørgensen making way for Poul Hartling in 1973.

The 2019 version, coming at the end of a long negotiation period to form government, continued Denmark’s overtly friendly approach to handing over the keys to power.

READ ALSO: Here is Denmark's new Social Democrat government